Washington University, located in St. Louis, says that the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity will open in October of this year, St. Louis Public Radio reports. The school hopes that the research center will lead the nation in studies and learning on the complicated issues of race.
Washington University’s provost and a professor of law, Adrienne Davis, will lead the center as founding director.
“The Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity will promote path-breaking research that deepens knowledge and shapes national dialogue; facilitate student learning; and provide an infrastructure for our faculty members to engage in public discourse and policy design both locally and regionally,” said Washington University Chancellor-elect Andrew D. Martin at the school’s Day of Discovery, Dialogue & Action.
The center will also support student research, especially in the fields of Asian-American, Latinx and comparative race and ethnicity studies.
The Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity is part of Washington University’s 12-point plan to increase diversity. The center is an outgrowth of extensive planning by a 23-member task force that was formed as part of the work of the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion.
According to the Associated Press, the idea formed at Washington University after the Aug. 9, 2014 shooting murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Brown was shot by a white police officer and the officer was not charged with the crime. Protests then rocked the city and made it national news how police in Ferguson and other areas targeted Black residents and courts profited from fines and court costs largely borne by Black people in the area.
The Washington Post recently released a profile of Dorian Johnson, Brown’s friend, and the witness to his murder that eventually inspired that movement’s powerful rallying cry: “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
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Brown “stopped to turn around with his hands in the air and started to tell the officer that he was unarmed,” Johnson said on MSNBC a few days after the shooting. “Before he can get his last words out, the officer fired several more shots.”
In The Post’s profile, Johnson said that he can’t stop seeing the moment Brown’s “soul left his body” but that he has been using music to turn his sadness into power. He has a song coming out with a St. Louis-based record label started by a childhood friend:
“My life changed up, walking with Mike Brown when he died,” Johnson rapped into the camera. “He had his hands up.”